Oct 3, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning in game one of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Will veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett return to the Pirates?

To retire or not retire?

That seems to be the question veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett is contemplating as the postseason winds down. After helping lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first winning season and playoff berth since 1992, is he ready to hang it up?

Burnett doesn’t seem to want to play anywhere but the Steel City, and the team has stated that they want him back. But could manager Clint Hurdle’s decision to start Gerrit Cole over Burnett in Game Five of the NLDS prompt his departure from Major League Baseball?

A recent radio interview with Hurdle on 93.7 The Fan has left many questioning whether or not Burnett will return to Pittsburgh, despite the historic season. When asked “Do you have any worries at all that your decision may, in sense, drive him away from the organization?” Hurdle replied as follows:

I don’t have any worries.  If it does, if it does… it did.    My responsibilities are to make the best decisions for the team that day.  A.J. has added so much value in so many different places.  I can understand…the personal feelings.  I was a player a long, long time ago.  I give players time to reflect.  Time to think.  We have had one conversation, short one, in St. Louis. The biggest question, one we did kick around is he didn’t have a feeling whether he was coming back or not anyway. He will need time to think where he was with his career.  That will need to be answered first.

 I think that the team chemistry this club demonstrated throughout the season is evidence enough that Burnett will return for at least one more season. Hurdle made the best call he could for the team’s success, and it just didn’t pan out. Burnett is a veteran, albeit a fiery one, and can understand that now that season is over.
For a more in-depth look at the interview and some reactions that followed, check out the FanSided Pittsburgh Pirates site, Rum Bunter.

Tags: A.J. Burnett Clint Hurdle MLB MLB Hot Stove Pittsburgh Pirates

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